Lynda Barry on Classroom Rules

“When classmates read aloud, we do not look at them. Instead, we draw tight spirals slowly.”

Search for “classroom rules poster” and one might find a lot of reminders to work hard, listen and be respectful. Not in Lynda Barry’s class: The cartoonist and teacher establishes a set of “rules” that reflect her beliefs about how her students should experience her university course. Students are known by character names; they begin each class by drawing a two-minute self portrait; they do not critique each other’s work. These 12 simple statements defy the idea that students and teachers should “co-create” their classroom rules; these are unapologetically hers, and yet they provide just enough structure to spark creative work in her classroom every day.

Go further:

  • Lynda Barry’s excellent book Syllabus is essentially an illustrated syllabus combined with her reflections on teaching.
  • The Five Obstructions also comments on the deliberate use of rules to prompt creative work.
Lynda Barry on Classroom Rules